Thirty years ago, Corinne Ferdenzi and her then-husband, Paul, made their way to the North Fork from Huntington. They heard a wine scene was growing; they wanted in.
In 1988 the couple opened Showcase Wine & Liquor in a former hardware store on the North Road in Southold. Now, after running the business for three decades, Ms. Ferdenzi is saying goodbye and the business has been sold.
“Times change,” she said, adding that she had been thinking about retiring for the better part of five years. She sold the business in July.
Showcase began as a fine-wine store meant to reflect a burgeoning industry on the East End. More and more, Ms. Ferdenzi said, “People wanted to drink wine, know about wine. But they wanted better wines and better liquors and there wasn’t a store around that had that.”
She stocked the shelves with an impressive array of vodkas, high-end tequilas, single-malt scotches, champagnes and a global wine selection. Though Ms. Ferdenzi, who previously owned a restaurant in Westbury, has a keen sense for the finer things, she never wanted people to feel intimidated walking into her store.
“There’s something for everybody’s budget,” she said.
A section at the back of the store is dedicated to Long Island wine. As the craft beverage movement arrived, she also stocked local vodka and whiskey.
What kept her going for 30 years?
“I had many wonderful customers,” she said. “They become friends and family. I loved the people, the ambiance. I never wanted it to feel like a liquor store.”
The store, at 46455 County Road 48, feels cozy and inviting. Ms. Ferdenzi decorated for every holiday, greeting regulars by name and watching families grow up to celebrate 21st birthdays, engagements and other milestones.
Over the past few months, new owners Santokh Singh and his son, Varinder, who operate a liquor store in Mount Sinai, have been expanding the selection and modernizing the business. “We changed this whole area,” Varinder said, pointing out changes to the front counter, which now has computers and a new lottery machine. “We added new Long Island wines and Spanish wine, too,” he said.
They plan to keep the Showcase name.
“I made the right decision by selling to them,” Ms. Ferdenzi said earlier this week. “They know the business; they’re wonderful with customers.”
Ms. Ferdenzi, now in her 70s, is looking forward to taking some time to rest after a long career. The Greenport resident also plans to spend more time caring for her partner, Al, and exploring new interests. Eventually, she hopes to return to Minneapolis, where her family hails from. “Who knows?” she said with a smile. “I may try to reinvent myself.”